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Nanotech News

June 12, 2006

Planned Clinical Trial Highlights First Nanobiology Think Tank

On June 2, 2006, more than 100 researchers and National Cancer Institute staff gathered at NCI’s Frederick campus for the first Nanobiology Think Tank. Expecting to hear about the latest advances in the ongoing effort to use nanotechnology to develop innovative approaches to detecting and treating cancer, the audience received a special surprise: the announcement by Steven Libutti, M.D., from the Surgery Branch of the NCI’s Center of Cancer Research, that clinical trials would soon begin with a novel nanoparticulate formulation of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a protein that has shown promise in treating cancer. The initial phase of the planned clinical trials will include 36 patients.

Organized by the NCIís Center of Cancer Research Nanobiology Program (CCRNP) director Robert Blumenthal, Ph.D., the Nanobiology Think Tank featured 20 talks by both intramural researchers and those at other institutions who have received NCI support, as well as introductory remarks by Dr. Blumenthal and NCI staff members. Gregory Lanza, M.D., a project leader in the Siteman Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence at Washington University in St. Louis, described several nanoparticle-based approaches and large amounts of data for in vivo imaging and treatment of tumors in mice and humans. Anu Puri, Ph.D., of the CCRNP, presented data for a nanoliposome that releases fluorescent probes inside cells in response to temperature change. King Li, M.D., M.B.A., of the NIH Clinical Center, described his research using pulsed high-intensity focused ultrasound to enhance nanoparticle delivery to tumors in mice.

Mark Kester, Ph.D., of the Pennsylvania State University, presented data showing that encapsulating ceramide, a potential anticancer agent, and small interfering RNA molecules (siRNA) in nanoliposomes significantly enhances their therapeutic activity in mouse models of cancer. He also described a new type of nanoparticle, which he calls molecular dots, that is composed of a calcium phosphate matrix material. He also discussed his team’s efforts using a molecular dot formulation of ceramide to treat tumors in mice. Mansoor Amiji, Ph.D., principal investigator of the Nanotherapeutic Stragegy for Multidrug Resistant Tumors Cancer Nanotechnology Platform Partnership at Northeastern University, described the use of nanoemulsions for image-guided cancer therapy of mice and delivery of paclitaxel across the blood-brain barrier in mice. He also discussed his team’s work with multifunctional nanocarriers aimed at overcoming drug resistance in cancer.

The CCRNP mission is to understand the structure and function of biomolecules and their assemblies, and based on the knowledge gained to design nanodevices, including biologically based nanoparticles, for in vivo imaging, diagnosis and targeted therapy of cancer, AIDS and other viral diseases. This Nanobiology Think Tank is one of several outreach programs of the CCRNP to promote collaborations, disseminate knowledge and enhance the development of novel creative ideas for research and biomedical applications.